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Army buys 13K more Rifleman Radios

by Mike Hoffman on August 21, 2012

The Army recently awarded a $53.9 million contract to General Dymanics C4 Systems for 13,000 AN/PRC-154 Rifleman Radios, a Joint Tactical Radio System designed to connect individual soldiers to the service’s network.

The Rifleman Radio is part of the JTRS Handheld, Manpack, Small Form Fit family of radios that is scheduled to be fielded as part of the Army’s high-tech Capability Set 13. Rifleman radio has turned out to be one of the few success stores to come out of the expensive scrap heap that was Future Combat Systems.

Soldiers raved about the range of the Rifleman Radios at the Network Integration Evaluation. The soldiers also appreciated having the capability to plug in the prototype smartphones the Army is testing into the Rifleman Radio architecture.

The contract brings the number of Rifleman Radios slated to be fielded to the Army up to 19,000, said Fran Jacques, a spokeswoman for GDC4S.

Capability Set 13 is scheduled to be fielded to infantry brigade combat teams in October with the first sets going to the 10th Mountain Division. The set features a package of network equipment and software designed to connect individual soldiers and small units to the Army’s tactical network.

The Rifleman Radio gives soldiers voice and data capabilities. It can be connected to a ruggedized smartphone so soldiers can send and receive emails, graphs and tactical maps.

“The order for more PRC-154 radios ensures the individual soldier is included in the big Army network,” said Chris Marzilli, president of GDC4S, in a recent press release. “His voice can finally be heard, his message received and his position-location reported.”

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{ 16 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike H. August 21, 2012 at 12:37 pm

Being an Old-Timer who humped a PRC-77 all over Germany in the 70's, I would happily pack one of those sweet little radios anywhere. Anything that takes 30 lbs of weight off Snuffy's back is a Good Thing…and long overdue.

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OldCommGuy August 21, 2012 at 12:45 pm

Pilgramman,
JTRS or any other type of tactical radio is encrypted, and the code keys change every day (loaded electronically using a fill device). If one were compromised, assuming other squad members couldn't get to thier comrade, they would immediately go to a backup code key. Each radio would also have a "Zeroize" function/button, which any squad member could immediately initialize on the downed soldier (Assuming they couldn't move them for whatever reason), which would dump the code key immediately making the radio completely unusable tactically. Practically all tactical radios work that way.

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Mayri March 25, 2014 at 1:59 pm

You have to ask? You don’t remember then manikg you the poster child long ago? How about Cowboy Action Shooters instead? You, too, could own 6 pairs of Western boots!

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Brandon August 22, 2012 at 10:18 am

Sounds like an awesome radio. I think in the heat of battle, only the squad leaders and up should have the smart phone version. The order takers should focus on killing and moving and taking the orders from the squad leader. Thats probably already how the Army plans on using it but who knows. It could be beneficial for a soldier to be able to glance down see all other positions just to give them a hint of confidence that their covered from a certain direction and that they wont be shot in the back or something by friendly fire. The radios allowing all soldiers in a unit to hear the commands and information updates rather then relying on the RTO to relay it is a big help. Only a split second saved here and a second there but when your talking about a soldier more confident of his unit being alert and covered by another unit, you make him more aggressive, and with better information, you make the individual PFC smarter and more capable.

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kristian375 August 22, 2012 at 4:02 pm

The ability to communicate more effectively between teams and with in teams via a encrypted data link would be invaluable. A squad leader cannot be everywhere all the time and I know as a squad leader in Iraq, I was not always able to see or communicate via voice with my team leaders or know where my Soldiers were maneveuring all the time. I would like to see this pushed down to every rifleman.

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DB-! August 22, 2012 at 5:07 pm

This may not seem like anything special to the laymen but this is really a big deal, because its is the next step forward in a network centric warfare to help clear up the smoke and fog of war for the war fighter. This radio will give U.S. troops a decisive advantage on the battlefield. It may not be sexy, gucci gear, but it will help win battles all the way down to the fire team. if you could look out to 15-20 years from now this will reduce blue on blue fire, clear up confusion in positioning the possibilities will be almost limitless. Way to go Army this may not be a cool new weapon system, but it will increase the effectivness of current weapon systems and the individual soldier.

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Dan August 22, 2012 at 10:34 pm

I think Smart phones are the way to go period. I have no idea how to present this to big Army, but why not try this? From day one hand the kid a smart phone. His service jacket, medical record and everything could be in constant sync. No more pay problems, no lost medical records. Teach the recruit that this is his life line and his identity. with storage capabilities now he could have instant access to every manual and order that he needs. He can keep a time line of what needs to be done and what has been done. This could all be encrypted and secured. Then as the recruit progresses just up his access to more communications and information and could save TONS of paper work. no more carrying orders, no more umm Top I didn't hear about that evolution. Just and Idea.

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Brad August 23, 2012 at 2:16 am

I would like one of those land warrior rifle mounted cameras that link to a monocular to mount on my paintball marker. I have been looking on the civilian market for components but I cannot find a monocular to link it to.

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Lance August 23, 2012 at 3:00 pm

Some army money going for needed projects.

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Unbeleif August 26, 2012 at 4:04 pm

40 k per radio, and already 50 billion wasted on non-working sets.

Can’t believe everyone is so overjoyed they actually built a working set, when they should be outraged about the wasted money that has gone into this tech.

To buy everyone a iFone, and build an app to do this would have cost 300 bucks…..

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Sergey October 7, 2012 at 9:59 pm

off by an order of magnitude $53.9mln for 13k devices is 4k each, not 40k.

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Sapper819 September 11, 2012 at 1:51 am

Looks cool but information overload can be a problem. This would be great with an HUD so you can look for threats while checking positions etc. Too much time head down looking at a screen is a recipe for disaster.

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Dave February 22, 2013 at 10:56 am

Goggles w/ heads up display the best way to go,look at welders quick change equipment,

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blight_ August 21, 2012 at 12:06 pm

Blue Force Tracker is something else entirely…though I didn't think we'd miniaturized BFT to fit on people yet?

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Menzie August 21, 2012 at 11:26 pm

It just mentioned about capability of receiving tactical maps, which by inference would have blue force locations although it may not be real-time.. Even a parent can utilize an app that locates their child's smartphone precisely, So the logical conclusion is yes it would be dangerous for one of these setsto fall into enemy hands unless there were security keys you have to enter every hour or so.

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blight_ August 21, 2012 at 11:35 pm

That would be the "ruggedized smartphone", whatever component that is.

I guess that the radios are used to transmit data to the smartphone, which serves more as a display.

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